(Located on the southern tip of St. Clement’s Island, St. Mary’s County, MD, on the mouth of the St. Marys’ River on the Potomac River. AKA Blakistone Island – revised 5/27/2020)
1851: Two-story brick dwelling with an integral tower built on Blackistone Island by John Donahoo. 2nd last lighthouse built by Donahoo.
1857: Tower fitted with a Fresnel lens.
1859: Jerome McWilliams, son of the island’s owner appointed head keeper.
1864: Confederate troops destroy lens and lantern, but spare lighthouse building on behest of keeper McWilliams. Repairs made quickly and lighthouse back in service.
1875: Josephine McWilliams Freeman named head keeper.
1911: Keeper Freeman retires, having served as lightkeeper for 37 years. One of only 49 women to serve as a keeper in U.S. history.
1915: Keeper Leonard H. Staubley is awarded the efficiency gold star.
1918: Keeper Leonard H. Staubley is awarded the inspector’s efficiency star.
1932: Lighthouse decommissioned. U.S. Navy purchases lighthouse site for ballistic testing
1934: 40-foot cross erected to commemorate 1634 landing of MD colonists.
1956: Fire of mysterious origin rages across the island and destroys lighthouse, leaving a burned, roofless shell. Navy demolishes remains.
1961: After nearly 300 years, island returns to its original name of St. Clement’s Island and is leased to the state of Maryland.
2007: St. Clement’s Hundred launches drive to build replica lighthouse, 150 yards from the original site.
2008: Replica lighthouse completed and opened to the public.
Source: Maryland Lighthouse of the Chesapeake Bay by F. Ross Holland, St. Clement’s Island Museum and Lydia Wood, Historic Site Manager, Museum Division.